Marie-Albert-Tibule Furcy de Lavault was born in Saint-Genis (Charente-Inférieure), France in 1847. Very little is known about his life and influences. He debuted at the Salon of 1880 with Fleurs de Printemps (Spring Flowers) and Nature Morte (Still Life). These early Salon entries show Furcy de Lavault’s propensities towards the long-established tradition of still lifes and an interest in flowers.
Many of his contemporaries, such as the progressive Impressionist and post-Impressionist group including artists Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Cézanne were also interested in still life representation and he was influenced by this group in his treatment and execution of the theme. Many other artists also devoted their artistic careers to still life painting including Georges Jeannin, Eugène Claude, Madeleine Lemaire, Eugène-Henri Cauchois, and Henri Fantin-Latour. Still life painting had a long history of providing decorative details to a home and since a new class of bourgeois with new money had been gaining more status in society, there was a surge in the interest of interior decoration and pictures such as those provided by Furcy de Lavault satisfied their desire for an element of a unified and beautiful interior decorating scheme.
Furcy de Lavault was most likely a self-taught painter. He maintained his strict focus on depicting still lifes, and especially flower paintings throughout his Salon career. In 1881 he exhibited Fleurs d’Automne (Autumn Flowers) and in 1883 exhibited Chrysanthèmes (Chrysanthemums). Between 1882 and 1883 he had moved and was listed in Salon catalogs as being at the Musée de la Rochelle, having obtained a curatorial position at the Museum. Nevertheless, this change in his position did not alter his Salon entries as he continued to exhibit still lifes and flower paintings.
Interestingly enough, while many artists established their careers through successive Salon exhibitions, Furcy de Lavault’s final showing was at the Salon of 1890, just nine years after his debut. He showed Fleurs d’Éte, panneau décoratif (Summer Flowers, decorative panel). Perhaps he stopped showing at the Salons because he had already attracted enough patrons to sustain his career, or because his curatorial position at the Museum took the majority of his time. He may also have been reacting to the oppressive nature of the Salons, since many independent exhibitions opened that allowed artists, many of whom were rejected at the official Salons, to exhibit elsewhere. Though this is probably doubtful since still lifes and flower paintings were generally accepted at the Salons and were a popular theme for both the jurors and the public. In light of this, Furcy de Lavault is seen more as an artist who did not focus his entire life on painting. His interests were further reaching than simply painting, and included aspects of museum administration and general art history in his life style.
In addition to his Salon exhibitions and his work at the Musée de la Rochelle, Furcy de Lavault was given an honorable mention at the 1888 Salon for Fleurs et Fruits (Flowers and Fruit) and also became a member of the Société des Artistes Français in 1887. Besides exhibiting at the Parisian Salons, Furcy de Lavault was also a participant in exhibitions held in Dijon.
While much of Furcy de Lavault’s life remains a mystery, he is an artist who was remained consistently diligent in his treatment of flower still lifes, submitting no other subject throughout his – albeit short – Salon career.
Salon of Paris, France, 1880
Salon of Paris, France, 1881
Salon of Paris, France, 1883
Salon of Paris, France, 1888
Salon of Paris, France, 1890